Suspensions row rocks Brown's schools team

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has suspended two of its top communicators - while its comms director is on maternity leave.

The department, headed by secretary of state Ed Balls, is responsible for pushing through the Prime Minister's ambitious plans for ending child poverty and clamping down on the 'commercialisation of childhood'.

It is understood that the two senior-level individuals were suspended shortly before Christmas, following a row over who should cover for comms director Caroline Wright.

The department has now drafted in Revenue and Customs PRO Jane Cooper to cover Wright's post.

Head of news Lee Bailey did not deny that two senior comms staff had been suspended, but would not name any individuals. Bailey, who heads up the press office, is one of three PROs to report to the director of comms at the DCSF.

Head of communications strategy Stuart Dickenson also reports to the director, as does head of corporate and internal communications Anna Brocklehurst. Neither Dickenson or Brocklehurst could be reached for comment as PRWeek went to press.

In a statement, the department would only say: 'We do not comment on personnel issues about members of staff.'

The DCSF comms team recently launched the Children's Plan, achieving a mixed reception to an initiative designed to put Gordon Brown's Government back on track.

- Additional reporting by Chloe Markowicz.

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